INDIANAPOLIS — As it turns out, the Indianapolis Colts are starting their 2020 offseason workout program on time after all — just in a completely different format.
With players, coaches and other team personnel required to stay at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Colts will utilize video conferencing to kick off their 2020 offseason workout program on Monday.
How the Colts' virtual meetings and workouts will look and feel is yet to be seen, but we do know some general rules that have been put in place by the NFL, according to a league memo obtained by ESPN.
This "three-week virtual offseason" can begin Monday and run through May 15; according to the memo, "classroom instruction and on-field activities that customarily take place at the Club facility ... are being supplanted by on-line classroom instruction and virtual workouts for an indeterminate period."
Teams may also conduct online classroom sessions even if they don't assign players specific workouts.
The plan for teams beyond this three-week period is a little bit more up in the air at this point.
Various stay-at-home orders and social distancing practices will play a major role in determining whether teams can allow players to return to their facilities for a more traditional offseason program after May 15. Past that date, every team will have six weeks of offseason program time available to use — whether it's at their facilities or in a virtual format — and no organization can hold any portion of its offseason program past June 26, according to the league memo.
The Colts, meanwhile, are doing everything they can to ensure a productive, and safe, start to their offseason workout program. General manager Chris Ballard said Friday that David Thornton, the team's Director of Player Development, has done a "tremendous job staying in constant contact with our players," ensuring they have everything they need to get started on the right foot.
Head coach Frank Reich has also praised the work of his coaching staff, which he challenged to be on top of every possible technological advantage available to the team in order to stay ahead of the curve over the next few weeks and months.
"That's the thing about this technology — you've got to use it (and) you've got to be good at it," Reich said March 31 in a conference call with local reporters. "That's what I've said to the staff: 'Guys, hey, you've got to become experts at this stuff. You need to learn every little nuance of it and find every creative way to help guys get better.'"
The Colts are also placing a great deal of trust in the players themselves; while these are unprecedented times, the team is still counting on them to be in shape once training camp, and then the 2020 season, begins.
"The one thing I have: I have a lot of trust in our team," Ballard said Friday in an interview with Colts.com's Matt Taylor. "These guys are in this building for a reason; it's 'cause we trust them. We trust them to work. They understand what the expectations are; they understand the kind of shape and conditioning they need to be in when they hit the field — whether it's sometime in May when they get in here for OTAs or if it's not until training camp — they understand the kind of shape they have to be in to be ready to play. And I think the type of guys we have, all of them, they don't want to let each other down. They're going to be ready to go, not only for themselves, but also for their teammates."